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REDWOOD ED: A GUIDE TO THE COAST REDWOODS FOR TEACHERS AND LEARNERS

Chapter 1 Native Americans and the Redwoods The first people to inhabit the coast redwood region were the Native Americans who, according to their traditions, believe that they were placed in their homelands by the Creator and that they have lived there since "time immemorial." Most scientists agree that the people who are now called Native Americans are probably descendents of people who migrated to North America from Asia about 15,000-10,000 years ago, when the last ice age lowered sea level to a point several hundred feet below its present level. "Indians" probably came to California from elsewhere in North America about 10,0008,000 years ago and to the northern redwood region from California’s central valley. Evidence of human occupation from about 5,500 before present (B.P.) has been found in northwestern California (Moratto, 1973). Archaeological evidence indicates that the entire coast of California was occupied by humans by about 5,000-4,000 B.P. By about 4,000 B.P., human populations in the redwood region had reached high levels. In the North Coast ranges, Native American populations were some of the densest in California. Before the Spaniards arrived, over 10,000 people lived in the coastal area between Point Sur and the San Francisco Bay. Estimates of the number of Native Americans in California at the time of Columbus range from about 200,000 (Hewes, 1981) to as many as 700,000 (Wilson, 1998); by 1900, there were probably no more than 15,000 (Emanuels, 1993). Teaching Idea Have students find the average of 200,000 and 700,000. Then have them compare that number (450,000) to the populations of large cities in California and of the state. Discuss how more people are able to live in California now than 500 years ago. Be sure to discuss not only how agriculture and medicine have changed our lives, but also how people living in cities depend on food and water from elsewhere, i.e., the populations of cities exceed the carrying capacity of that area's land. In the northern redwood region, some of the Native American peoples and cultures were very similar to the people of Alaska's southern coastal areas, living mainly along salmon streams and obtaining much of their food by fishing. Evidence of this derivation is found in their languages, culture, boat building techniques, and plank houses. Other groups apparently came to the north coast from the south and from the central valley. In the southern redwood region, the Native Americans obtained more food by hunting and gathering than by fishing. At least 15 different tribal groups inhabited the redwood region when the Europeans arrived in the 1700s. Native Americans in each area adapted to their local

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environments, utilizing the natural resources, including the redwoods, in a variety of ways. Use local resources to learn about the lifestyles of specific groups. Because there were so many different groups, it is difficult to discuss all of them here. Some common practices of major groups are described below, especially as they pertain to the redwood forests. The rugged geography of the redwood region, which tended to isolate groups from each other, was an important factor in the development of different languages and cultures. Plentiful resources, especially foods such as fish and acorns, also reduced the need to interact with other groups, further increasing isolation. As the relative isolation continued for many centuries, languages and cultures became increasingly distinct. Teaching Idea This cultural evolution is a similar process to biological evolution. Discussion of cultural evolution can provide a basis for discussion of biological diversification and evolution‌ change over time. Evolution is emphasized in the seventh grade science curriculum. In high school life science, students learn about how geographic isolation affects speciation. (With regards to Native American groups, we're not talking about speciation, of course, but rather about development (evolution) of different cultures and language groups.) Even as early as first grade, the history-social studies standards discuss such things as "some aspects of people, places, and things change over time while others stay the same." In third grade, students study "the ways in which physical geography, including climate, influenced how the local Indian nations adapted to their natural environment." Several of the resources listed in Appendix III and IV provide maps of Native American groups. (See Eargle, Emanuels, Heizer, Woodhead, and others.) By comparing a map of Indian group territories to a map that shows mountain ranges, students can see that groups in the northern region, where the mountains are very rugged, tended to inhabit a more restricted area than those in the southern areas, where the terrain made travel easier. This is very evident if one also looks at the large areas inhabited by groups in the central valley, where travel was relatively easy, or the southern deserts, where food and water resources were scarce and necessitated larger hunting/gathering areas. Coastal groups utilized many resources from the sea, including many kinds of fish, seals, sea lions, shellfish, octopi, seaweeds, salt, and other resources, including the occasional whale. Not only did marine organisms provide food, but shells were utilized as tools, furs provided protection from cold weather, and many resources were used as trade goods. Resources such as fish, acorns, and deer were so plentiful that there was little need to "farm" such crops as corn or squash. The major groups in the northern part of the redwood region were the Tolowa, the Wiyot, and the Yurok. The Tolowa lived in northern Del Norte County in the Smith River

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area, while the Yurok inhabited an area from Wilson Creek in Del Norte County to Little River south of Trinidad Head in Humboldt County. They lived in over 70 villages ranging in size from one family to fifty people. The Wiyot lived along the coast from Little River south to the False Cape/Bear River Ridge just north of Bear River. Tolowa and Yurok houses and other buildings such as sweathouses and assembly halls were made mostly of redwood planks. (See Figures 70 and 71.) While somewhat different in design, Tolowa and Yurok buildings had much in common. The planks were typically made from trees that had fallen in the forest and from driftwood. The trees were split into planks using wedges made from elk antlers that were pounded with stone mauls, and shaped with mussel shell adzes. The boards might be several inches thick and 1 to 4 feet wide. These rectangular buildings might be up to 50 feet on a side, but were generally smaller. To conserve heat, and to protect against animal or human intruders, access was through a round opening, barely large enough for a person to crawl through, cut into a plank. Redwood's resistance to decay helped these buildings last more than a hundred years. While most of the redwood used by the Native Americans came from fallen trees, they apparently did occasionally use fire to cut trees down. Hot stones and fire were used to char and burn a "cut" in one side of the tree. The charred wood was scraped away and the process repeated. When one side was partly burned through, another "cut" was made higher up on the opposite side. Fortunately for early users, much of the old-growth wood was knot-free, which made it easier to split. This facilitated the making of planks from the abundant old-growth trees and logs. (It also made it easy to make grape stakes, shingles and other "split products" in later times.) Teaching Ideas Many of the illustrations in Section II are provided two-to-a-page so that they are large enough to use as masters for overhead transparencies. See the activity "Ideas for Using Historic Images" in Section IV. Pictures from many sources in IV and V, including Barbour et al. (2001), can be used as a basis for student-built models of Native American plank houses and bark cone-shaped houses built by students.

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Figure 69.

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Replica of a Yurok dugout canoe. (Photo from Clarke Museum collection.)

This replica of a Yurok redwood plank house can be seen at Patrick's Point State Park, north of Arcata. Note the small entrance opening, which helps conserve heat and makes the dwelling more secure. Since the house surrounds a pit, the walls needn't be very tall.

Figure 70.

(Photo by Michael Roa.)

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Figure 71.

Replica of a Yurok sweat house at Patrick's Point State Park. (Photo by Michael Roa.)

Figure 72.

Model of a Yurok plank house on display at Patrick’s Point State Park. (Photo by Michael Roa.)

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Redwood was used in a variety of other ways, especially by the Yurok. They created furniture such as stools and boxes, paddles, dugout canoes, and fishing tools. Redwood bark and root fibers were used in basket-making. Redwood bark was even used to make women's skirts and men's mantles. Canoes were especially important to the Yurok and the Tolowa. In many areas, the rivers provided an easier way to travel than hiking through dense forests and up and down steep terrain. (See Figure 69.) Dugout canoe making was a complex process. After using fire to "cut" driftwood logs into sections about 18 feet long, the shaping process began. Pitch was spread on one side of the log and ignited. As the pitch burned, it charred the wood. The builders smothered the fire with damp green leaves or fresh redwood bark and then scraped out the charred wood. Repeating the process and scraping and shaping both the inside and outside produced a canoe that worked well on the rivers. Five or six months might be spent making a canoe, which could be used by the makers or traded to another group (Barbour et al., 2001). Even larger canoes were built for use in the oceans. Seagoing canoes might be thirty to forty feet long and five to ten feet wide. Such a canoe could easily hold over a ton of fish, seal meat, or other goods (Hearst, 2006). The Yurok diet was based on salmon and acorns. Tanoak acorns were preferred, but black oak and canyon live oak were also used. Since oaks grow better in clearings than under a forest canopy, the Yurok and other native groups learned to start fires on a regular two-year cycle. The regular burning produced openings in the canopy, which resulted in a larger acorn crop, and it also provided fire breaks around villages, reduced the invasion of conifers into clearings, reduced the intensity of accidental fires, and provided habitat and food for a variety of desired plants and animals such as deer and elk. Burning to improve acorn crops was especially common in the inland forests, but was also practiced in the redwood forests.

Teaching Idea Discuss what might have happened if the Native Americans hadn't set fires in the grasslands and prairies, i.e., if they hadn't managed the resources. (At first bushes and shrubs and then trees would be able to grow along the grassland/forest margin. Then the forest would encroach on the grassland, eventually replacing it with forest. This is an example of biological succession. Fires are generally suppressed throughout the redwood region today. Ask students to discuss what is happening to the forest clearings as fires are prevented. When visiting a site such as Fort Ross, have the students look for evidence of forests moving into the grassland. Also ask students for ideas of ways other than fire to keep bushes and trees from invading the grassland.

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Be sure to discuss the problem of accumulation of fuel from decades of fire prevention. When fires burn an area every few years, there is little damage to the large trees because there is not enough fuel for a large, hot fire. If fuel accumulates for many years, fires tend to be much larger and more destructive. Sometimes prescribed or controlled burning is used as a tool to reduce the accumulation of hazardous fuel, but air quality concerns limit its use. Logging or thinning can also help reduce the fuel load. There are seldom simple solutions!

Yurok villages were generally not located in the redwood forests, but rather in openings and prairies along the coast between Trinidad and Crescent City, and on the lower 45 miles of the Klamath River. The clearings were often maintained by fires. These clearings provided berries, bulbs, grains, nuts, and many other plants used not only for food, but for medicines, basket making, and for arrows and other tools. Bear-grass was highly desired for basket making. In some areas, the seeds of the grasses in the meadows and prairies provided a significant source of food. Indians sometimes saved seeds of desired plants and spread them in the ashes after a fire. Large redwood trees were seldom harmed by these regular fires, but the burning did influence the composition of the forest understory.

Teaching Idea Discussion of burning by Native Americans should include discussion of the results of fire prevention around cities today. When brush and dead wood are allowed to accumulate, fires are much more intense than they are in areas that are regularly burned. Regular, cyclical burning by Native Americans reduced the intensity of the fires that they started or that occurred naturally. Fires occur every spring, summer, and fall, and they threaten human life and habitation, especially in southern California. Save clippings or articles about these fires and discuss the pros and cons of controlled or prescribed burning. Invite speakers from the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or local fire departments to discuss controlled burning and fire safety. Clearings created and maintained by the Indians also provided habitat for animals such as deer, rabbit, and elk. The rivers and streams of the northern redwood region yielded abundant harvests of salmon, steelhead and lamprey. These fish were harvested during spawning season and dried for a year-round source of food. The territory of the Northern Pomo extended from just north of Fort Bragg to near the mouth of the Navarro River, while the Central Pomo territory began there and extended south to the mouth of the Gualala River in southern Mendocino county. The territory of the Kashaya (another group of Pomo speakers) stretched from the mouth of the Gualala

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River to Duncans Landing. Members of these groups sometimes built cone-shaped houses of bark by leaning large slabs of redwood bark against a central support pole. Layers of bark were laid on top of each other, shingle-like, until the only openings were a smoke hole at the top and a small "door." (See Figure 73.) They also used redwood planks to build structures similar to those of the Yurok and Tolowa, sometimes adding bark to the planks as additional weather proofing and insulation. Like most other Native American groups of the redwood region, the Pomo generally didn't live in the redwood forest itself. Rather, they lived along the coasts, rivers, and mixed oak/grassland. The Pomo did enter the redwood forests in search of plants such as ferns, establishing seasonal camps that they might use for a few weeks each year. Like the Yurok, the Pomo hunted rabbits, deer, sea mammals and other animals. As with the Yurok, salmon and steelhead were an important part of the Pomo diet. It was the Kashaya who were encountered by the Russians when they established the Fort Ross settlement in 1811-1812.

Figure 73.

Redwood bark houses, or kotchas, were made by the Coastal Miwok. This replica is part of the Kule Loklo replica Coastal Miwok village at Point Reyes National Seashore.

(Photo by Michael Roa.)

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The Coast Miwok inhabited the area that is now Marin County, around Tomales Bay and Point Reyes, but also ranged north to Duncan's Point. Groups of Miwok speaking various dialects, lived in the central valley and the Sierra, including Yosemite. From the Golden Gate south to the Sur River in Monterey County, the Ohlone (or Costanoans) were the predominant group, and they, like the northern groups, sometimes built winter shelters with slabs of redwood bark. In the milder areas such as Monterey County, the Costanoans slept in the open much of the year, using shelters of sticks and brush in the winter. Tule reeds were used for building shelters and making canoes.

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Chapter 2 The Chinese, Spanish, Mexicans, Russians, and the Coast Redwoods The first people other than Native Americans to see the coast redwoods may have been Chinese. One account has a Chinese merchant named Hee-li being blown out to sea and eventually arriving at a coast wooded with what were apparently redwoods in 217 B.C. (Collings, 1985). A Chinese explorer named Hui Shan wrote about tall trees with red wood that he had seen while sailing eastward along the Pacific rim in 458 A.D. (Adams, 1969?). Discovery of these writings has stirred controversy about our traditional ideas about the "discovery" of North America. In 1579, Sir Francis Drake landed at Point Reyes, making the Coast Miwok among the first Native Americans in the redwood region to have contact with Europeans. Contact with Europeans in the southern part of the Miwok's territory increased with the coming of the missionaries in the 1700s. The first recorded sighting of the coast redwoods by Europeans was written by Father Juan Crespi, who accompanied Gaspar de Portola on his explorations from San Diego to Monterey Bay in 1769. On October 10, Crespi wrote: "In this region, there is great abundance of these trees and because none of the expedition recognizes them, they are named red wood (palo colorado) from their color." (Barbour et al., 2001). To the Europeans who came to the coast redwood region in the 1700s and 1800s, the coast redwoods provided an important source of timber. As the Spanish buildings were constructed, pine and cypress were used for rafters and beams. Redwood was used for things such as doors and furniture. In 1775, Captain Juan Bautista de Ayala made a large dugout redwood canoe in the Carmel River area. This was one of the first three Spanish boats to enter San Francisco Bay. At his request, Father Junipero Serra was buried in a redwood coffin in 1784, and the coffin was still in good condition when it was disinterred at the Carmel mission 98 years later (Barbour et al., 2001). The first mission to use large amounts of redwood lumber was Mission Santa Clara. The redwoods were cut on the east side of the Santa Cruz mountains and dragged to the mission site, where they were used as posts or shaped into beams. Redwood was also used in the construction of other missions in the redwood region. Some missions, in Santa Cruz, San Rafael, and Sonoma, shipped redwood to other missions such as those at Santa Barbara, San Juan Bautista, and Soledad. Teaching Idea Many fourth grade students do "mission projects" in which they build models of missions. Sometimes students visit the actual missions. If/when students do visit the missions, have them look for evidence of the use of redwood, and ask them to report back to the class about what they find. When students build mission projects, they can also build models of the Native American villages that were often near the missions.

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In sum, though, redwood was not a major commodity or much used resource during the Spanish reign in Alta California, and the Spanish did not have a major impact on the redwood forests. When Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, pastureland was the major concern. Redwood continued to be used in relatively small quantities, but the Mexicans were more interested in tallow and hides than in timber.

Figure 74.

Tanoak bark was used in the tanning of hides to make

leather. (Photo courtesy of Humboldt State University Humboldt Room collection.) The redwood forest itself was not conducive to growing crops, and the size and numbers of the trees discouraged attempts to clear them for settling. Also, the tendency of the redwoods to stump sprout meant that the settlers had to keep cutting the trees if they wanted to keep the land open for grazing or growing crops. As was the case with the Native Americans, most early European or Mexican settlement occurred along the coast and along rivers, which provided transportation, and in open areas in the forest where the light made it not only more comfortable, but also made it possible to grow some crops. During the early 1800s some non-Mexicans were living in the redwood forests near Santa Cruz, and some of them were operating commercial redwood logging and milling companies by the 1830s. The trees were felled and cut into boards by hand and then hauled to San Francisco or Monterey Bay to be sold.

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Between 1812 and 1841, the Russians on the north coast used redwood from the nearby forests to build Fort Ross. The local Native Americans were the Kashaya, who spoke a form of the Pomo language. With Aleut and Kashaya workers, the Russians felled trees up to 20 feet in diameter and made lumber with which they built the chapel, stockade, two blockhouses and several houses. The Russian traders, unlike the missionaries to the south, didn't try to convert the Native Americans to Christianity. Rather, they saw the Indians as trading partners and workers, and they tried to establish a business-like relationship (Lightfoot, 2005). The Russians were mainly interested in the pelts of sea mammals, especially the sea otter, whose pelts were especially valued by Asian rulers. The Russians even brought skilled native Alaskan hunters with them to Fort Ross. They also conscripted local Indians to hunt for the Russian companies. So effective were these otter hunters that the sea otter was rapidly hunted to near extinction in California. The swiftness of the decline was remarkably rapid; by the early 1820s, the sea otter population had declined significantly (Lightfoot, 2005). The Russians were also interested in establishing agricultural sites, largely to provide food for their hunting colonies in the North Pacific. The Russians grew some of their food, but also produced grain, beef, and manufactured goods to trade with the Franciscan padres to the south. The Spanish, and later the Mexican government, didn't officially recognize the right of the Russians to move into the California territory, but the Spanish governors often negotiated deals that enabled trade, frequently receiving sizeable gifts and payment of taxes and duties (Lightfoot, 2005). Some of the redwood used in the building of the missions, houses, and forts 200 to 300 years ago can be seen when one visits the missions, parks, and other places where the structures remain. The chapel at Fort Ross was rebuilt after the 1906 San Andreas earthquake, largely with wood from the original Russian buildings. Teaching Idea When visiting historical sites, look for opportunities to point out the spacing of the rings in the logs or wood. Trees that grow slowly produce closely spaced rings. Most of the redwood used in the historical buildings was from "old-growth*" forests, which were very shady, resulting in closely spaced rings. (Old-growth trees growing in an opening, however, may have produced widely spaced rings. Trees may also grow slowly for a while, then more rapidly if the forest canopy opens, then slow down again when the canopy closes up again.) Most redwood harvested today is from young growth* forests, which are generally more open, resulting in more rapid growth and more widely-spaced rings. * For a discussion of "old-growth" and "young growth", see Section I, Chapter 2 See the activities "Fence Post Studies," and "Slow Growth or Fast Growth?" in Section IV.

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REDWOOD ED: 6_Native American and Redwoods